I completed a new painting today. I used a combination of watercolor, acrylics, and oil markers on a 24×48″ wrapped canvas. It will be on display at the Whitewater Valley Arts Association’s regional show this May. I have not decided yet whether or not I will be selling it.
This is a commentary on what it’s like to live with a chronic invisible illness / invisible disability. Every aspect of this painting is symbolic in some way.
The “rain”: The different color stripes of rain represent the many facets of “normal” society which everyone is expected to be able to achieve; i.e., working, going to college, becoming a parent, etc. It also represents silent judgement of others, ableism, and ignorance of the struggles which might hold a person back from achieving what society sees as success.
Umbrella: The umbrella represents the conscious act of protecting oneself from the potential toxicity of those societal expectations.
Broom / Dishes: This symbolizes the necessary everyday tasks you must complete regardless of your limits. It can be hard to “balance” those tasks when you have a debilitating condition.
Books / Cat: This symbolizes the hobbies, interests, and personal life which are crucial for happiness. These are the things that make life worth living, but you have to balance these as well.
Rx Bottle: This represents chronic illness / disability. It is rolling beneath the foot of the person, expressing the constant balancing act that is life managing complicated and debilitating conditions.
Flame head: The head of the person is characterized as a flame to represent the courage of the person who is fighting to balance life with management of their chronic illness. The flame can easily be doused by the “rain”, so its fragility must always be protected by the umbrella overhead.
Band-aid: The bandage is just another symbol of the illness, an indicator that the person in the painting is not in good health, even though they appear to be balancing things well. This is meant to emphasize the “invisible” aspect of chronic invisible illness.
This is not the best quality picture of the painting. I am going to arrange to have it professionally photographed so that I can make fine art prints available for purchase. When I do, I promise that 50% of all my profits from print sales of this piece will be donated to NORD, the National Organization for Rare Disorders, which finds grants and programs that help people living with rare conditions like my own.
This painting is an original work of art created by Sunshine Ammerman. Reproduction or sale of this work without written consent of the artist is prohibited. You may share this painting on social media, but you must give me credit and include a link to this article. Thank you.